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Desktops (Apple) IOS Operating Systems Upgrades Apple Hardware

Sealed-Box Macs: Should Computers Be Disposable? 673

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's new Retina MacBook Pro is essentially completely non-upgradable, a sealed-box, following a trend started with the MacBook Air in 2008. It's a given that hardware companies are in the business of selling hardware, and would love for computers to have iPhone-like replacement cycles of 1-3 years. But does this mean we're moving irresistibly into an era of 'sealed-unit computing,' even for power users?"
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Sealed-Box Macs: Should Computers Be Disposable?

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  • Should .... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:24PM (#41059909)

    ... pocket calculators be disposable? Same question.

  • Look to Detroit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:26PM (#41059941)

    to see how well planned obsolescence worked out for the American auto industry.

  • No. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:28PM (#41059955)

    Maybe computer illiterate art-students and older people will be okay with being cowed into buying a new 'sealed' computer every few years.

    However, anybody who knows anything about computers likely wouldn't be okay with that. Personally, I built my own computer, and couldn't imagine handing over 3x as much money to Apple for them to give me a less powerful, un-upgradeable, 'pretty' white box.

    Can't tell if troll or just stupid.

  • Germany's model (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Antony T Curtis ( 89990 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:29PM (#41059983) Homepage Journal

    The manufacturer should pay S&H to receive such sealed units for recycling and it should be as simple as submitting a request on their website for a prepaid addressed bag/envelope/box to be sent to the customer.

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:31PM (#41060005) Homepage

    This isn't exactly new. The original Macintosh was rather deliberately designed to be a sealed unit, with no user-upgradable/replaceable components inside.

    Just like pretty much every other piece of consumer electronics. How easy is it to upgrade your Blu-Ray player, or replace components in your clock radio? Microcomputers have been the exception to this, beginning as kits and retaining some level of user-customization (most of the time). But as they get closer in size a pocket calculator than to a refrigerator, with the components getting smaller and closer together in the process, the notion that you can open up and tinker with your laptop becomes about as practical as suggesting that you do the same with your wrist watch.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:38PM (#41060113) Homepage
    apple sells an experience, it hasnt sold computers or catered to the "power user" since the 1980s. Instead, Jobs expanded upon the initial notion of easy to use computing thats attractive and modern and comes at a premium price. Part of that experience is acknowledging that in order to provide uniformity to the target demographic, the Mac-anything is going to be a closed box. when it breaks, the consumer need only buy a new one. Never fault the customer or insist they understand how to do anymore than consume the product and have fun within the lines.

    Apple users, largely but not exclusively, are less computer owner and more internet user. For those of us who wanted a real computer, the kind you can get into and tinker with, we built one from parts.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:51PM (#41060311)

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my sweetheart, a market research person placed rather high up in a Fortune 500 company. She's a smart cookie. I consider myself to not be too stupid either. Anyway here's the gist of the argument.

    I'm an old dinosaur, having been around the PC since it took off in the 70's. I've always had a PC since my teenage years - Apple II, PC XT, AT, and all the way across the upgrade path to the current i7 quad core I'm writing this on. As a dinosaur, I always have in the back of my mind the modular design of the computer. PC's were originally sold to us on expandability - the ISA slots. With those 8 slots you could increase the memory, add in a co-processor, a graphics card - hard drives, when those came out. The sky was the limit. And no one wanted to buy a computer that had few ISA slots - I mean, why shoot yourself in the foot right at the beginning? Compatibility was also paramount. It had to be IBM-compatible, because that was the "gold standard".

    But the market has changed. Kids nowadays, and Joe Public who isn't a computer expert at all - well they really don't give a damn about keeping their options open. They want a neat little package that works with as little hassle as possible. The things I value in a computer are not the things they value in a computer. And unfortunately as I age, I am slowly but surely moving into a very niche market.

    Of course I think the current trend is wrong. I am dead set against the top-down model that manufacturers are desperate to impose on people - buy this machine, and then only buy from my store, and only run apps that I say, and eventually, don't run apps at all - lease CPU time from us "in the cloud" (which is just another way of saying the old mainfraime/client model). I think there is great danger in this route - because no one will look after your data, and you can be denied access to your data. And of course you will have to pay to access your data. Without even mentioning security problems. Personal computers had broken through that top-down model and everyone had a mini supercomputer (at least what passed for one in the 70's) on their desk and could do anything they wanted. Now you will only be able to do what you are allowed. But again, the market doesn't care. The market wants facebook and skype and angry birds and a camera and a phone and to be able to watch tv, and that's it.

    Apple has seen this, and oh god are they ever cashing in. Others are catching up. But the direction of the technology is the same, be it apple or the competitors. A locked device, and pay for service. I think it's a shame, but I'll be dead soon.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:10PM (#41060569) Homepage Journal

    Ok, then; how about "Good luck finding a laptop that you can upgrade anything but the main drive and perhaps the RAM. And even the SSD in the MBPwRD is theoretically upgradeable, since it is on a subassembly with a connector.

    How about not moving the goalposts every time someone points out one of your posts as the blatant fanboi-ism that they are? Hell, you could have went ahead and asked your follow up without looking like an ass, just by prepending "You're right about that, but" to your response.

    To answer your new question, I have an old Dell 1500 series that now sports a custom matte display (which I prefer over the stock glossy one), a Blu-ray burner (stock was a DVD-ROM drive), an upgraded CPU (original was 1.8 Ghz Core II Duo, swapped with 2.6 Ghz version), and of course, maxed out RAM and a big-ass HDD.

    Sure, I'm pretty much stuck with the crap-tastic Intel G45 graphics setup, but I was still able to upgrade far more than the RAM and disk space as you implied.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:20PM (#41060719)

    And they are so well-designed that it's common to make one good one out of two or more wrecks, or build custom "Frankenpads" from parts of different machines.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:56PM (#41061223) Journal

    Seriously, it's great if laptop makers can truly build upgradeable machines that don't sacrifice reliability in the process. But I remember the era of Dell laptops with socketed CPUs and upgradable video cards, and it wasn't all roses and unicorns.

    I believe it was the old Latitude CP series where the CPU used to work itself loose from its socket over time, resulting in a system that refused to boot. (One of the "fixes" that used to get one going again was pressing down hard with the palm of one's hand near the center of the keyboard. The keyboard assembly happened to be right over the CPU and would flex enough to allow re-seating the chip, at least for a while.)

    The models with the supposedly upgradeable video cards turned out to be more hype than substance too, because the type of video boards they took were proprietary, and no longer manufactured at all after 2 or 3 variations went through their initial production runs.

    Ultimately, even on desktop PCs, expansion capabilities really don't get people too far.... Sure, you can upgrade processors -- until AMD or Intel goes and changes the design of the socket and pin layout. Then you're just as stuck as the next guy with his CPU soldered onto the motherboard. Same issue with RAM. Most machines only provide between 2 and 4 DIMM sockets, with a motherboard chipset unable to map/use more than a certain amount of memory. So what usually happens? The RAM upgrade becomes a nice thing to have initially, for the folks who tried to go cheap on the initial system purchase and selected less RAM than was optimal to save a few bucks. They get the chance to "buy now and pay later" to put the RAM in that probably should have really been there from the start. But down the road? You wind up saying "Gee... I'd like to upgrade this PC to 16GB of RAM but the board only supports 8. Oh well...."

    Don't get me wrong... I like having a machine I can service myself if I determine a part died. And I've usually upgraded hard drives in most machines I've owned, as well as adding RAM to some, or upgrading the video in my higher-end machines. But as we demand ever lighter weight, slimmer portables with more and more functionality - we're really demanding technology that doesn't have any room for spare sockets, cables and connectors. It all depends on what the goal is, really. Expandability and modularity comes at a price of taking up extra space. Apple is big on going "cutting edge" with the "how small can we make this?" question on their minds -- so it makes perfect sense they wound up where they did, with not even so much as a removable laptop battery.

  • by richard.york ( 829554 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:00PM (#41061291) Homepage

    You may not like Apple, but the retina display is awesome. Being forced to settle for a 1080p display is a crock of shit. At least now that Apple is pushing higher resolution displays, it just might force this ridiculously inept notion that 1080p is the best display we can hope for out the window, and force other manufacturers to once again push the bar on high dpi on LCD displays.

    I'm a Mac head, I love my Apple computers. But, I'm not happy at all with this push for non-upgradeable machines. I have upgraded the RAM in my MacBooks, I have swapped out hard drives, I have swapped optical drives for hard drives. I love being able to change out parts. So, personally, I'm not too keen on having no upgradeability in the retina MacBook Pro, and I probably won't be getting one. I'd be perfectly happy if Apple continued to do "pro" and "non pro" lines, but it seems they are going all consumer these days, and people like me mean less to them than ever before, and the word "pro" in the line's name has become meaningless.

    I don't find the base price of the machine unreasonable, on the other hand, I do find the upgrade pricing for RAM and solid state storage to be unreasonable. I can now buy a 512GB solid state drive for $400. Getting the same through Apple, I have to pay a hefty premium. Same goes for RAM. That's always been true. And I don't really buy their argument that it has to be that way to make them so thin.

    But back to my original point, the high res display itself is great, and personally, I want more of that kind of innovation in the market, not less. The soldered on RAM, SSD, and glued in batteries? Not so much. I'm capable of looking at this objectively and giving praise where it is due and leveling criticism where it is due. Is it just because Apple came out with a nice high-res display that we're now to think it is somehow not useful or innovative? Dumb question, this being Slashdot I expect very little in the way of reasonableness toward Apple.

  • by Relayman ( 1068986 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:28PM (#41061629)
    Or maybe the average professional who bills at $100+ and hour. For me, a MacBook is a cost of doing business.
  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:58PM (#41062043) Journal

    Exactly. Most of us couldn't give a rat's ass about retina displays which i personally think on a smaller screen is kinda stupid, but we DO care about being able to upgrade our systems. On my netbook I can upgrade the RAM, change the HDD for an SSD, replace the battery with one of several third party, including a few that make 10 cells so I can run all day, there are even tutorials on how to swap out the screen for a touch complete with links to the screen if I decide I would like touch down the line.

    This is why I'll never be an Apple customer, I LIKE being able to upgrade my laptop or netbook so I can get more usage out of it, I LIKE building my own desktops so I can have just the right amount of CPU, RAM, HDD space, and GPU that I need with the option to get bigger down the line, and if I don't have retina to get all that? Fine by me, although there are websites that cater to the medical community where you can buy ultra HD screens in just about any size that you require and frankly with the tutorials it really isn't hard to DIY a screen swap. If you really don't feel comfortable with a screwdriver you can always come by the little mom & pop shops like mine, we'll be happy to do the work for you and when all is said and done you'll end up with a nicer machine built with what YOU want and not what Apple decides you can have this year. Seems like a no brainer to me, but then again I'm not an Apple customer.

    BTW slightly OT but has anyone else noticed that Apple users just don't seem to be happy unless they can convince you "the Apple way" is the RIGHT way? They just don't seem to be able to be happy with a product unless they can somehow get others to think they were "right" and the other way is "wrong". My personal theory is there is a doubt sitting there on their shoulder going "You paid too much" and the only way they can soothe that doubt is to get others to agree with their purchase. Personally I like Asus and Samsung laptops, Asrock and Gigabyte boards, and HTC phones, but I don't really need anyone to like or dislike the brands I use because they are a personal preference no different than the pizza i eat or the shoes I wear. I'll just never understand this "need' for want of a better term of Apple users to try to justify their selections. If it makes you happy? Then please use it, I wish you nothing but good luck. but please don't try to make this a black and white issue because its really not, its personal preference, that's all.

  • Re:lo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dacut ( 243842 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @08:42PM (#41062565)

    The answer is simple enough....don't buy Apple.

    I wouldn't quite say "simple" for a lot of folks, myself included. There are two reasons why I ended up going with a unibody MacBook Pro (2009-era) when my last laptop died: It has a decently sturdy build quality (much better than the Dell I gave up) and, when something goes wrong, I can take it to a human, point out exactly what's wrong, and say, "Fix it" rather than play phone and shipping tag with some contracted-out support company. At the time, upgradability didn't factor into my decision; it was just as upgradeable as every other system I considered. Since I purchased this machine, I've upped the RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB and swapped the rotational hard drive for an SSD. I've also had to use the Genius Bar to address a charging issue (1 hour of my time, vs. 2-3 months getting the run-around with Toshiba for my wife's previous laptop; there's a brand I'll never touch again).

    (Mac OS? It's nice because it has the Unix command line utilities I'm accustomed to; Cygwin and Interix are clunky at best. UI isn't as nice as Windows 7, though.)

    Now that Apple has removed the upgradability feature, I'm not quite sure where I'll go next.

    This is why I've built my own desktops for over 15 years, because not only do I get a better quality system at a cheaper price, but I can have it the way I want it, not the way some OEM thinks is best.

    Oh, I definitely build my own desktops. Laptops are a different beast, though; because the form factors are non-standard, it's difficult to find parts which play nicely. You can't just add a dedicated graphics card, for example, and the motherboard+screen+case are pretty much a unit (though your example of replacing the EEE's screen for a touch-enabled one is impressive).

  • by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @03:19AM (#41065091)
    I've been working as a Mac Tech for some 6 years now, and swollen Apple batteries are quite normal. In fact, I've seen it happen to units since 2006 and up to their current generation. This may occasionally break other components in the unit.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev